Leamington inflict more misery on struggling Old Yardleians
Leamington maintained fifth place in the table with a businesslike performance at rock-bottom, but nevertheless, spirited Old Yardleians.
Playing conditions were very poor, with a heavy pitch and light rain throughout and credit must go to the quality of the Leamington backline who put together some stunning attacking play which brought about four of the five tries scored.
Old Yardleians took advantage of an early penalty award to kick themselves in front before Leamington took control with some clever attacking play.
From the restart, wingers Jamie Harrison and Garrett Bell linked up to put pressure on the home side and Leamington were soon ahead following some high tempo football.
Old Yardleians conceded a penalty, which Tom Jewitt took full advantage of to kick his side into a good position in the top corner. From the resulting lineout, the Leamington pack drove towards the try line, with John Brear and Aled Thomas just held up. However, still retaining possession, Tom Jewitt and full-back Rich McKowen combined in midfield to get the ball out to Bell on the right-hand flank who raced in to score in the corner.
The momentum stayed with Leamington, as first Jim Robertson put in a lightning break upfield and then prop Danny Phillips, from inside his 22, set the ball away for Robertson to send out a huge clearance kick to put the home side under pressure again.
Leamington were also using the pick and drive to make inroads, with Brear at the forefront of this attacking route.
With around 17 minutes on the clock, it was a powerful run from Brear that opened up the home defence and gave Bell just enough room on the right wing to outpace the home defence and glide in for his second score of the afternoon.
Despite this further set-back, Old Yardleians were trying to compete and looked comfortable when they secured possession in the pack. They were also adept at trying to kick themselves into forward positions and thus put pressure back on to the Leamington defence.
Where, however, they lacked power was in their backline, which struggled to cope with the pace and flair of their counterparts in the Leamington squad.
This was confirmed when Tom Lane claimed lineout ball and set up an attack. When the ball was spread wide, Bell’s run from the flank provided the extra man in the line and his neat pass to Harrison could only have one outcome. With their third try secured, Jewitt slotted over the conversion for a 17-3 lead.
In the final minutes of the half, Old Yardleians showed their commitment by putting in some powerful surges in the Leamington danger zone which were finally rewarded with a converted score.
Leamington opened up the second period with a couple of forceful breaks from Brear and Rich McKowen and when they were awarded a penalty in the home 22, Jewitt took the opportunity to kick his side further ahead.
Although once again taking control of the game, Leamington found it difficult to break down the stubborn resistance of their hosts. They continued to use the pick and drive to gain ground and were always on the lookout for a chance to get that all-important try.
In one instance, Patrick Northover’s kick to the corner was chased down by Gareth Shuttleworth and the home defence were once again under the spotlight.
With ten minutes remaining, Leamington finally achieved their aim courtesy of some eye-catching football. Jewitt sent in a testing kick up the flank which Toby Bruce gave chase to. His presence clearly unnerved the home defence who were forced to concede a penalty. This initially provided the chance for Leamington prop Aled Thomas to dent the home defence. Northover then took possession, sent out a delightful dummy pass and was over in an instant. With the fourth try bonus point secured, Jewitt coolly added the extras.
Leamington were now brimming with confidence and still had sufficient gas in the tank for one more try.
Bell sent in another challenging kick into the home 22 and once again Old Yards were forced to concede a penalty. From the ensuing lineout, Lane took possession and allowed his forwards to drive towards the line, with both Brear and Thomas staking a claim to have got the all-important final touch.